Spiritual State of The Union

images Yearly America’s President gives a State of the Union address.  This address provides us with an overview of where we are and where we’re going. This inspired me to write this short blog on our Spiritual State of The Union.  What is the spiritual state of America?  We hear a lot about how the Founding Fathers were Christians.  We’re told how the bible shaped and influenced America from her humble beginnings.  Yet, there has been a turn in the moral tide over the last 50 years or so.  Well, actually it happened before that.   Although this blog will not go into politics, we will discuss a few things that can be controversial.  Obviously there are other issues to talk about but I think these four things will provide us with enough lively but Godly conversation.  These issues do not have a “I’m in the middle position.” Either you condone them or you don’t.  So lets briefly look at these controversial issues.

  • Same sex marriages
  • Tithing
  • Living in Sin
  • Tolerance

images-1Same Sex Marriage:  Sooner or later you will have to state where you stand on same-sex marriage and the homosexual lifestyle.  Some Christians choose to ignore it but same-sex marriages are happening.  I devoted a chapter and an addendum to homosexuality in my book, There Is No Gray In Moral Failure.  Christians can’t have hatred towards people who live a lifestyle contrary to their own.  Hatred is the exact opposite of what we stand for.  Well, we do hate sin and evil.  Let’s be clear. We should not accept anything that isn’t aligning up with our Christian values.  If we accept a little, sooner or later we’ll accept a lot.  Someone once said, “Stand for something or fall for everything.”  The issue is not whether or not your family member, co-worker or friend is a homosexual.  The issue for us is the devaluing of what Christians hold dear: Marriage between a man and woman.  We are going down a slippery moral slope.  Once we go down, we will never come back.  Some will argue the bible doesn’t specifically say you can’t marry a person of the same sex.  It’s true Jesus didn’t address same sex marriage.  Well, He didn’t directly address jaywalking either.  But the Apostle Paul does address this issue.  You’ll also hear Apples-and-Organges arguments.  An example will be, “You told a lie so does God loves you?”  Or, you might hear, “No sin is worse than another.  So the person who stole will go to hell also.”  The issue is on Same-Sex Marriage and if God approves.  Those point-counterpoint arguments are set up as a lose-lose situations. Your goal is to win them to Christ not add extra barriers.

There is now a Gay Bible.  This rewriting of our holy and sacred book is deliberate attack on our belief system that hasn’t garnered any negative press.  Yet, there are grave repercussions if a Christian says anything negative about Gays.  Chuck Hagel has been nominated to the next Secretary of Defense.  His approval will be tough because he spoke out against the homosexual lifestyle in the 1990’s.  Or we can look at Rev. Louie Giglio.  He was selected to give the benediction at the Presidential inauguration.  He withdrew his name or it was withdrawn because he spoke out against the Gay lifestyle.  The Rev. Dr. Luis León of Saint John’s Church’s was chosen to replace Pastor Giglio.  Pastor León’s church “is gay-affirming and blesses gay and lesbian unions, and has been attended both by President Obama and former President George W. Bush.”  CNN and the Huffington Post (staunch supporters of Gay rights) did not have long debates or write articles in defense of Chuck Hagel or Rev Giglio.  Yet, they regularly publish news segments or post articles supporting the homosexual-lifestyle.  Your stance, if it isn’t based on God’s word will cause you discomfort.  You will be going against the soon-to-be status quo.  Now some of our leaders are indorsing Same-Sex marriages.  This list includes President Obama, former President Clinton and Bill Gates  One senator has changed his stance on the issue because his son is gay.  While these are great political moves, they do not go in line with their stated Christian beliefs.  Our religious stance shouldn’t change because of our personal situation.  The Word of God doesn’t change.

Jesus dealt with and interacted with sinners.  Just like you and I.  In fact, we all are sinners.  The chief difference is that Christians know Who our Savior is. No one will win if we deal with this debate through anger and hatred.  We do not have that option but they do.  We are to love.  We are to love those who hate us (Matt 5:44).  This is not to say that those disagreeing with our position hate us.  Our individual responsibility is three-fold.  We should know what the bible says about this issue.  Second, we have to align our worldview (the way we see things throughout the world) with the Christian worldview.  Last, we must stand up for those beliefs.  It doesn’t help the Christian cause if you stand strong on a stance inside the comforts of your church but don’t speak on it, when warranted, outside the church.  I can only recall Joel Osteen as the only Megachurch minister to publicly speak out against the Gay lifestyle.  He amended his words a bit after he received some heat but at least he said something.

One of your goals is to bring everyone to Christ.  You’ll be better able to do this once you know where you stand on this issue.  Then you need to look at what Christianity says about it. Those two things should be congruent.  Ask your pastor to provide you with several points on why Christians do not endorse same-sex marriage.  Remember, this isn’t an emotional debate.  You want to know what “thus says the Lord.” Or at least what our biblical standards are.

You should realize that those opposing Same Sex Marriage will soon be in the minority.  Results from a new LifeWay Research study show the number of Americans who think homosexuality is a sin has signficantly decreased in a year. Their survey taken in November 2012 found only 37 percent of American adults see homosexuality as a sin. In 2011, 44 percent of Americans agreed. And 17 percent of those in the 2012 survey said they didn’t know if homosexuality was a sin, an increase of 4 percent from last year. Some television stations celebrate when someone “comes out.” There are even some churches that now openly endorse this marriage.  In fact the Cathedral in Washington DC just had their first same-sex marriage.  Many Episcopalian churches and some Baptist churches have ordained openly gay ministers. Watch out for anyone who changes or manipulate Scripture to prove their point. The Scripture states “they will be known by their fruit.”  Study the Scripture (2 Tim 2:15) and ensure you know which side to stand on.  Jesus told us to take up our cross.  This wasn’t a call to action to have fun.  Times will get tougher for Christians who stand their ground and stick up for biblical values.  Regardless, we must love those who despise us.  On this issue, your worldview should be Christian-based not secular.  As such, your viewpoint may not be universally accepted by some of those you love or are friends with.  Remember, we want all to know and come to Christ. You might be the person to show them the way to Christ.

images-2Tithing:  Money is always a touch subject. Ouch. Dr. Ron Sider, professor and founder of Evangelicals for Social Action, made an interesting assessment in an interview with Christianity Today. He stated, “The average church member [from across the denominations] today gives about 2.6 percent of his or her income—a quarter of a tithe—to the church.”  Two years later, the Barna Group’s research showed that, “Whether they believe in the principle of tithing or not, few Americans give away that much money … the research revealed that just 5% of adults tithed.” This simply means that only one out of 20 people are tithing! The 2008 Hartford Institute For Religious Research surveys shows that 32% of mega church attenders give nothing financially, or just a contribute small amount when they can. But, according to this survey, both small churches’ and megachurches’ members say they give a tithe or more. Money is important to many people.  We some often get protective of our assets.  God doesn’t need your finances.  Tithing is an act of obedience.

I grew up thinking that the Pastor was “stealing money from the church.”  In my research for my book, I found that those allegations are off quite a bit. Regardless, your job is to be obedient to what the bible says about tithing.  I suggest you consult with your pastor to get a better understanding what your denomination believes.  For example, some believe we should tithe on the net while others say we should tithe on the gross.  The point of this is this: Study the bible and find out what it says about tithing.  Then do it.  You do not want anything to hinder your walk with Christ.  Your job isn’t to determine who is stealing from the church.  You want to be obedient and do your part.  God will handle the rest.  Your tithe helps keep your church running and allows her to minister to those in the church, those in the community and those abroad.  Jesus mentioned tithing three times in the New Testament. In Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42 & Luke 18:9–14.

images-4Living in Sin:   This too is a straightforward position that Christians should take.  The question is, “Is the person you’re sleeping with your lawfully wedded spouse?”  On a recent move, I overheard one of the movers state that his “wife was XYZ.”  Some time later in the day he mentioned that his girlfriend said, “XYZ.”  One of the guys asked him, “Do you have a girlfriend and a wife?”  He stated, “No, I just call my girlfriend my wife.  A piece of paper doesn’t make us more in love. Plus we’ve been together for (or four) years.”  This is not the way Christians should live.  It’s easy to know if you’re married or not.  Do you have to go to the court to get a divorce?  Is there any sort of process you have to go through in order to dissolve your relationship?  You’re not married if the dissolution of your relationship is as simply packing your suitcase.

Either you are or you aren’t going to engage in pre-marital sex, extra-marital affairs or you aren’t.  Many television shows and movies entice their viewers with scenes of scintillating sex.  They have scenes of voluptuous women and manly men and that’s just the commercials!  Many magazines models leave barely anything for the imagination. One can say that Victoria’s Secrets is no longer a secret.  We’ve seen it all already. There are more movies that now show male frontal nudity. The list is endless.  Christians shouldn’t indorse people “shacking up.”  In the recent past, a couple would be ashamed to admit they were “living in sin.”  Many parents were adamantly against it.  Not so much now.  On this issue, your worldview should be Christian-based not secular.  As such, your viewpoint will not be accepted by some of those you love or are friends with.  You must stand strong in your convictions.  Obviously, when addressing the unmarried Christian couple, you cannot force one person to move out of their house.  That’s not your role or authority.  You cannot be tolerant of the issue.  You can kindly advise them on the way Christians should live.  The key here is, as in the other issues, to address them in love.  Here are some Scriptures you can review. 1 Corinthians 6:9, 2 Corinthians 12:21, Galatians 5:1 and Hebrews 13:4.

imagesTolerance:  Some secular arguments state that to deny another person’s belief is intolerant.  It’s said that Christianity is exclusive since it doesn’t believe there are more than one way to heaven.  Those who oppose Christianity are right.  As Christians, we stand on and believe in what the bible says, not what an unbeliever says our faith should be like.  Ironically, it is not labeled intolerant when others do not believe in Christianity.  The problem or opportunity is that we must reach out to those who don’t believe in Christ.  We can’t reach them if we have an adversarial attitude.  We would be wise to think about and read John’s Second Epistle.  He warns believers not to associate with heretics.  John was telling them not to let their lives or actions indicate an acceptance of those counter religions.  Paul talks about this also in Romans 14:16.  Although, he wasn’t talking about intolerance or heretics, the spirit of what he was saying is applicable. The same thing, in principle, applies to us today.  We must stand firm in our belief that there is only one God.  We believe there is only one way to God.  Also, we believe in Jesus, His death and Resurrection.  We must coexist with other religions. The key thing to remember is that they have to coexist with us also.  Therefore we must maintain our steadfastness in faith.  Perhaps our light will be bright enough for them to want to know more about our God.

Where do you stand on these issues?  Are you endorsing or involved in any of these things?  You do not want anything to hinder your walk with Christ. This is the time.  This is the day to search yourself.  Ask God to help you.  Ask if you’re upholding Christian values.  Pray for clarity.  If you aren’t aligned properly with God’s word, repent and get aligned. You might have to fast in order to get clarity and understanding.  Christianity is an “all in” lifestyle.  We do not have the right or privilege to only accept what we want and disregard the things we don’t.  Either you’re fully committed or you aren’t.  While those words might sound harsh, they are the reality of the lifestyle we’ve chosen to follow.  We need every Christian in the battle.  We need each other.  I’m pulling for you.

Whew! If you stuck with me…we reviewed some tough issues.  Unlike my other blog posts, this blog isn’t really about you.  It’s about Christians in general.  Admittedly, these issues align up with our journey this year by doing 12 Things You Can Do To Strengthen Your Christian Walk.  So I guess it is about you.  I simply picked a few areas that Christians need to talk about.  Regrettably, self-professing Christians give unbelievers conflicting messages when we embrace same sex unions, or we don’t tithe, or when we are living in sin.  Simply put, Christians have not and still do not always act like Christians.  In other words, we don’t practice what we preach. We are flawed individuals and those who have opposing views are just like us – flawed.  This should remind us that we must stand up for our beliefs.  This walk will have its pitfalls.  We must remember some of our leaders have exerted policies and taken positions contrary to our belief system and worldview.  We also must be cognizant of the sexually laced television shows and must.  The influence of those medias have a profoundly negative affect on our society.  Please don’t go out and stop looking at television. Rather, be aware of what’s going on.  Be the Christian you’re called to be.  We need you because the Spiritual State Of The Union will not get any better without your help. 1 Chronicles 7:14

I realize some of my followers will fall away.  Others will criticize the blog because it isn’t favoring these positions.  My about page states that I’m here to help Christians grow in their faith.  We can’t do this if we fail to address issues that Christians need to know where they should stand. As always, I love feedback…let me know your thoughts.

Much of this blog has been taken from my upcoming book on the “Outside The Wire: Combating Spiritual Warfare.”  I hope release it by the Summer.

[1] Johnson, Yves N. There Is No Gray In Moral Failure, (Fort Washington: John 316, 2012), 28.

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11 thoughts on “Spiritual State of The Union

  1. God’s laws, precepts, standards have not changed simply because we as a body have tried to move those lines, same-sex marriages is wrong-all sin is wrong which is why we are to live according to the Holy Spirit so that we won’t sin-not as hard as people think-it’s about choices…tithing has to be on the gross-which is the whole not on part or on what is left over after the government gets theirs…tolerance-we don’t have to accept anything that goes against the word of God-we can love the sinner, win them to Christ without accepting their ideas about a belief system-there is only One way and that is Christ…living with and sleeping with someone you are not married to—same as same-sex marriages, robbing God of the tithe and watering down the Gospel. Never be afraid of truth, God’s truth which will not change no matter how uncomfortable it makes people. We want God to line up with our sinful selfish desires instead of making the decision to deny flesh to line up with God….I will never compromise and do not care who knows it-no foe is greater than my God-I consider myself a Levite.

    1. Gina, you are right on point. Unfortunately, many Christians have tried to move those lines. Regrettably, some of our Christian leaders are trying to and have done so. Tithing and tolerance are divisive issues that need to be addressed. It’s a bit funny that we want God to bless us but we don’t want to give Him what’s due to Him. However, let a sickness hit you…then money is not the thing you’ll covet the most. You’ll be more than willing to do everything you should have been doing. We don’t need to wait for a travesty to hit us before we follow God.

      I agree with you, we should never dilute the word or our stance in order to accommodate anyone. Like you, I’m not afraid to speak the truth. I want my words and actions always line up with His word. I am a bit dishearten some times when I see or hear about a brother or sister in Christ knowingly going down the wrong path. I’m glad to hear your uplifting and encouraging words! Thank you.

  2. Hi,
    What is happening in the United States has been happening in European countries for some years now. Christian principles and ethics are being replaced but I don’t think this is anything new. We only need to look at the time of Noah and we see a similar pattern.

    It is time that we as Christians in all of our tolerance stand up for our own beliefs. It doesn’t mean that I am going to try and persuade someone to go my way. They have the right to choose just as I have a right to choose to be a Bible believing Christian.

    Thank you for this very informative article.
    Ciao,
    Pat

  3. Dear Yves, what a refreshing blog! I hate political correctness, it has moved our society into the depths of hell. No one wants to take a stand for what is morally correct anymore. When churches turn their heads to these and other issues they send a wrong message. Tolerance can lead to complacency, and then the hole is too deep to get out of. The word tithe means ten, so there shouldn’t even be a discussion on that. By the way, to tithe and not do it with a happy heart defeats the purpose in the firstplace.

    Our country seems to have come to a place where the bullying is on the Christian conservative, those who believe as you do. Those who believe in man/woman marriage as Adam and Eve (not Adam and Steve) were, are now labeled homophobes. What is good is bad and what is bad is good. The devil is definately having his day, he knows his time is short.

    Thank you again for a good blog, and may God continue to guide you and bless you with strength and wisdom in your faithful walk. Also, may He protect you and yours in this immoral world. Good job, Yves!

    1. Deirdre, Thank you the kind words. It does seem like many people are shying away from taking a moral stand. Ironically, that the topic of my book.

      It seems like others are intolerant to our beliefs. The President and other high-powered individuals make it seem that it’s ok to “evolve” on your beliefs. That’s simply saying you now agree with something you didn’t previously. It’s my prayer that we can hold true to our beliefs. Believers and unbelievers are always looking at us. I must also say, it’s not always easy to stand your ground. Regardless, we have to.

      Thank you so much for the words of encouragement and blessings. May our Father do the same for you also.

      Yves

  4. Yves, being a staunch believer of what Christ taught us and unwilling to accept diluted truth of mondern-day society is the only way to truthfully be considered a Christian. I commend you, my friend!

    Salvatore Buttaci

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